This a fabulous large woven natural pigment Abelam Headdress Yam Mask from the Abelam Tribe of the East Sepik in Papua New Guinea. A Yam Headdress such as this would have been placed behind yam masks while on display for the ceremonial exchange of the village’s largest yams, and are made exclusively to adorn long yams grown for exchange and social status. The Abelam cultivate two distinct categories of yam,a small variety used as ordinary food and long yams, massive tubers that can be as much as twelve feet long. A man’s social status is determined largely by his success in growing long yams. Each man has a permanent exchange partner to whom he ceremonially presents his largest yams following the annual harvest, later receiving those of his rival in return. Men who are consistently able to give their partners longer yams than they receive gain great prestige. Lavishly adorned for the presentation ceremony, the finest long yams are essentially transformed into human images, decorated in the manner of men in full ceremonial regalia. The large decorated yams are believed to be live embodiment's of the ancestors and the masks play a central role in representing the spiritual beings. Power and status are directly related to the size of the yam and gender is prescribed to each based on their straightness and protrusions. Men weave the yam masks with human and animal characteristics and then typically cover them with clay pigment and dyes. A masterful weaver will produce a mask that is tightly woven, clear in form and idea and that has a visual presence that easily conveys the spirit of the ancestor. The application of paint animates the finished mask; paint is the trans-formative ingredient that changes the status of the mask from an inanimate thing to living spirit. This mask is a unique example of Papua New Guinea art and the meaning it has in their lives. A perfect adornment for your home or to add to your collection.
COMES ON STAND
The mask shows age, but is in good condition
19" tall on stand
17 1/2" wide
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